Temperature patterns and mechanisms influencing coral bleaching during the 2016 El Niño

Tim R. McClanahan, Emily S. Darling, Joseph M. Maina, Nyawira A. Muthiga, Stéphanie D'agata, Stacy D. Jupiter, Rohan Arthur, Shaun K. Wilson, Sangeeta Mangubhai, Yashika Nand, Ali M. Ussi, Austin T. Humphries, Vardhan J. Patankar, Mireille M. M. Guillaume, Sally A. Keith, George Shedrawi, Pagu Julius, Gabriel Grimsditch, January Ndagala, Julien Leblond

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Under extreme heat stress, corals expel their symbiotic algae and colour (that is, ‘bleaching’), which often leads to widespread mortality. Predicting the large-scale environmental conditions that reinforce or mitigate coral bleaching remains unresolved and limits strategic conservation actions1,2. Here we assessed coral bleaching at 226 sites and 26 environmental variables that represent different mechanisms of stress responses from East Africa to Fiji through a coordinated effort to evaluate the coral response to the 2014–2016 El Niño/Southern Oscillation thermal anomaly. We applied common time-series methods to study the temporal patterning of acute thermal stress and evaluated the effectiveness of conventional and new sea surface temperature metrics and mechanisms in predicting bleaching severity. The best models indicated the importance of peak hot temperatures, the duration of cool temperatures and temperature bimodality, which explained ~50% of the variance, compared to the common degree-heating week temperature index that explained only 9%. Our findings suggest that the threshold concept as a mechanism to explain bleaching alone was not as powerful as the multidimensional interactions of stresses, which include the duration and temporal patterning of hot and cold temperature extremes relative to average local conditions.

LanguageEnglish
Pages845-851
Number of pages12
JournalNature Climate Change
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

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coral bleaching
El Nino
bleaching
temperature
coral
East Africa
Melanesia
heat pump
heat
time series
environmental factors
mortality
conservation
temperature anomaly
El Nino-Southern Oscillation
sea surface temperature
alga
environmental conditions
heating
interaction

Cite this

McClanahan, Tim R. ; Darling, Emily S. ; Maina, Joseph M. ; Muthiga, Nyawira A. ; D'agata, Stéphanie ; Jupiter, Stacy D. ; Arthur, Rohan ; Wilson, Shaun K. ; Mangubhai, Sangeeta ; Nand, Yashika ; Ussi, Ali M. ; Humphries, Austin T. ; Patankar, Vardhan J. ; Guillaume, Mireille M. M. ; Keith, Sally A. ; Shedrawi, George ; Julius, Pagu ; Grimsditch, Gabriel ; Ndagala, January ; Leblond, Julien. / Temperature patterns and mechanisms influencing coral bleaching during the 2016 El Niño. In: Nature Climate Change. 2019 ; Vol. 9. pp. 845-851.
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abstract = "Under extreme heat stress, corals expel their symbiotic algae and colour (that is, ‘bleaching’), which often leads to widespread mortality. Predicting the large-scale environmental conditions that reinforce or mitigate coral bleaching remains unresolved and limits strategic conservation actions1,2. Here we assessed coral bleaching at 226 sites and 26 environmental variables that represent different mechanisms of stress responses from East Africa to Fiji through a coordinated effort to evaluate the coral response to the 2014–2016 El Ni{\~n}o/Southern Oscillation thermal anomaly. We applied common time-series methods to study the temporal patterning of acute thermal stress and evaluated the effectiveness of conventional and new sea surface temperature metrics and mechanisms in predicting bleaching severity. The best models indicated the importance of peak hot temperatures, the duration of cool temperatures and temperature bimodality, which explained ~50{\%} of the variance, compared to the common degree-heating week temperature index that explained only 9{\%}. Our findings suggest that the threshold concept as a mechanism to explain bleaching alone was not as powerful as the multidimensional interactions of stresses, which include the duration and temporal patterning of hot and cold temperature extremes relative to average local conditions.",
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doi = "10.1038/s41558-019-0576-8",
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McClanahan, TR, Darling, ES, Maina, JM, Muthiga, NA, D'agata, S, Jupiter, SD, Arthur, R, Wilson, SK, Mangubhai, S, Nand, Y, Ussi, AM, Humphries, AT, Patankar, VJ, Guillaume, MMM, Keith, SA, Shedrawi, G, Julius, P, Grimsditch, G, Ndagala, J & Leblond, J 2019, 'Temperature patterns and mechanisms influencing coral bleaching during the 2016 El Niño', Nature Climate Change, vol. 9, pp. 845-851. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-019-0576-8

Temperature patterns and mechanisms influencing coral bleaching during the 2016 El Niño. / McClanahan, Tim R.; Darling, Emily S.; Maina, Joseph M.; Muthiga, Nyawira A.; D'agata, Stéphanie; Jupiter, Stacy D.; Arthur, Rohan; Wilson, Shaun K.; Mangubhai, Sangeeta; Nand, Yashika; Ussi, Ali M.; Humphries, Austin T.; Patankar, Vardhan J.; Guillaume, Mireille M. M.; Keith, Sally A.; Shedrawi, George; Julius, Pagu; Grimsditch, Gabriel; Ndagala, January; Leblond, Julien.

In: Nature Climate Change, Vol. 9, 11.2019, p. 845-851.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterResearchpeer-review

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T1 - Temperature patterns and mechanisms influencing coral bleaching during the 2016 El Niño

AU - McClanahan, Tim R.

AU - Darling, Emily S.

AU - Maina, Joseph M.

AU - Muthiga, Nyawira A.

AU - D'agata, Stéphanie

AU - Jupiter, Stacy D.

AU - Arthur, Rohan

AU - Wilson, Shaun K.

AU - Mangubhai, Sangeeta

AU - Nand, Yashika

AU - Ussi, Ali M.

AU - Humphries, Austin T.

AU - Patankar, Vardhan J.

AU - Guillaume, Mireille M. M.

AU - Keith, Sally A.

AU - Shedrawi, George

AU - Julius, Pagu

AU - Grimsditch, Gabriel

AU - Ndagala, January

AU - Leblond, Julien

PY - 2019/11

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N2 - Under extreme heat stress, corals expel their symbiotic algae and colour (that is, ‘bleaching’), which often leads to widespread mortality. Predicting the large-scale environmental conditions that reinforce or mitigate coral bleaching remains unresolved and limits strategic conservation actions1,2. Here we assessed coral bleaching at 226 sites and 26 environmental variables that represent different mechanisms of stress responses from East Africa to Fiji through a coordinated effort to evaluate the coral response to the 2014–2016 El Niño/Southern Oscillation thermal anomaly. We applied common time-series methods to study the temporal patterning of acute thermal stress and evaluated the effectiveness of conventional and new sea surface temperature metrics and mechanisms in predicting bleaching severity. The best models indicated the importance of peak hot temperatures, the duration of cool temperatures and temperature bimodality, which explained ~50% of the variance, compared to the common degree-heating week temperature index that explained only 9%. Our findings suggest that the threshold concept as a mechanism to explain bleaching alone was not as powerful as the multidimensional interactions of stresses, which include the duration and temporal patterning of hot and cold temperature extremes relative to average local conditions.

AB - Under extreme heat stress, corals expel their symbiotic algae and colour (that is, ‘bleaching’), which often leads to widespread mortality. Predicting the large-scale environmental conditions that reinforce or mitigate coral bleaching remains unresolved and limits strategic conservation actions1,2. Here we assessed coral bleaching at 226 sites and 26 environmental variables that represent different mechanisms of stress responses from East Africa to Fiji through a coordinated effort to evaluate the coral response to the 2014–2016 El Niño/Southern Oscillation thermal anomaly. We applied common time-series methods to study the temporal patterning of acute thermal stress and evaluated the effectiveness of conventional and new sea surface temperature metrics and mechanisms in predicting bleaching severity. The best models indicated the importance of peak hot temperatures, the duration of cool temperatures and temperature bimodality, which explained ~50% of the variance, compared to the common degree-heating week temperature index that explained only 9%. Our findings suggest that the threshold concept as a mechanism to explain bleaching alone was not as powerful as the multidimensional interactions of stresses, which include the duration and temporal patterning of hot and cold temperature extremes relative to average local conditions.

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SN - 1758-678X

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